05 October 2009

Nancy Drew goes undercover at an AKC event that involves wine.

Hola, mystery lovers. Boy did Nancy pick up a big sack of clues. It's pretty certain now that it WAS Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe. Wait. I only said that because of the wine. No I didn't. I didn't even have any. I had to leave early from this mystery solving spree. Before the FREE WINE TASTING! But not before I gathered up one whole heckuva lotta information that not only helped me with Gustavo, but as an added plus got a little taste of the world of AKC brand agility.

Let's backtrack a little bit here. There was this AKC club Fun Match on Sunday at a beautiful winery near where I had to go to a horse event in the afternoon. AND, it offered FREE WINE TASTING. I am all, okie dokie AKC, I am gonna give you a big fat chance here because, HOLA. Free wine and convenient to a work related thing and dog agility, all in one attractive package for the low, low price of $35 tax writey offy dollars.

I just ran Gustavo. Hinky dink lady dogs had to sit in a pen. No wine for them. We pull up and beautiful, stunning grass field on surrounded by the vineyards at an adorable, old winery. A standard course set up, and a jumpers course, and a rally obedience course on flat, manicured lawns.

Uh, rally obedience. I've never actually seen this up close and personal. I am gonna say, sort of the dressage of the dog world, maybe. Not my cup of tea. A bunch of cones with little signs taped to them and dogs walking around in little circles, I think. We watched for about .01 seconds then went on our merry way. Sorry, rally obedience fans who are now going to HATE me but this just looked kinda lame and boring. Like a useful skill and all, heeling and sitting and circling and control and all, but can I just mention again, little signs taped to cones and dogs walking around in little circles?

So, very different than at most Fun Matches I've been to. A positive thing, so many different kinds of dogs! And lots and lots of little dogs. Teensy dogs even.

A negative thing. Choke chains. WHOA. Some very different ways of agility training than I've seen before. I'm a gonna leave it at that. A kinda weird vibe I got there.

A weird thing. No border collies. Maybe it was just this particular crowd, because I know lots and lots of border collies whose owners don't call them rats in the ring when they run away from unclear handling and zero praise also run in AKC. They just weren't there today.

Also got to hear a big fat earful of comment about MOI because i was walking my dog behind some canopies and I will just put out this gentle reminder to all the catty ladies out there, that sometimes people HEAR your catty comments.

And also. I can't help it if Gustavo ran like a superstar. Catty ladies. Although, I think no one here is a catty lady. Right? You just stopped reading if you are. My non agility friends, you are about to be BORED TO TEARS with dog agility minutia. Start squinting now or close your browser window. If you stay with me, I am so sorry. Because you must have swine flu and nothing better to read? We will find something more amusing tomorow for you. Maybe.

After his weird, disasterous agility evening the night before, I decided to see if he ran any differently if I took the rewards out there with me on his first run, and eliminated the teeter totter. If it was the same, then geez. Become the best darn therapy dog ever?

OMG. I say this all the time these days.

It's shows I'm a hip, internet kind of gal.

Even if typing OMG is so 2004. I live in a bubble.

He did drive-by a jump in 2 long leadouts I tried, that was just my error in how I set him up and didn't make him go back and fix. In case you're wondering, snarky ladies. But only errors he had! Hitting the poles like a star, at full speed. Dogwalk contacts. Tables. Fast and accurate a-frames. Amazing on jumpers courses that also had weave poles in them. Every run like a super star, so fast and so happy and so brave, felt like a real, winning agility dog.


Some runs, I brought out rewards. Copious amounts of leash chasing, rolling around on the grass in plain view of snarky ladies meat based rewards. Some runs, we just ran out of the ring to get 'em, like after a particularly awesome table or poles. Some runs we ran the whole thing around three times. I think we had 7 spectacular runs.

Until number 8. Oh my. Number 8. Ocho. Not our number. When I decided, we try one teeter on our last course. Uh oh. Was one of the evil nemesis teeters, an old Duncan type. Pink. Just wanted one, simple, easy, teeter, huge reward and then call it a day. Based on the facts of the rest of the day, I thought this plan would succeed. I was trying to think scientifically. Using my master's degree here.

Oh right. And how do my best plans USUALLY go? First weirdo thing, red flag of what's to come, he does a spooky dead people stop and stare on the dogwalk. EVERY SINGLE other dogwalk had been fast with either a great contact or a pretty good contact in his other runs. We thought that the dead people had been eliminated with the frequent rewards and lack of teeter totters. But oh, no. He stared at the dead people, finished running across, and we ran a loop around and then, phew, good, normal dogwalk and dead people vanished. Children of the corn, zombies of the zin, guerillas in the grapes. Vanished. But they did make that one appearance and deer in the headlights had quite the screeching halt on top of that dogwalk. A first!

So had to decided, then and there, run out and reward the getting over dead people and just finish the day teeter totterless? Or go on and add a teeter? Your answer is, of course, run out, reward, and be done with it all. And my action was? Crap. Try the teeter totter. Idiot, idiot, idiot. Mission needed to be aborted but I stick with the original plan, and hello, refusal. He comes back around, I stay in close, hold the board for him, and lower it down like teeter totter second grade. Reward profusely.

There's a table on the way out of the ring. Does he go down on the table after dead people or a teeter episode, even though he knows I have a bindle of meaty snacks in my pocket? Of course not. Tries to get underneath, but it's too low and so he just lays there next to it, wagging his tail. HOLA!

Does then hop up, stay down for a table count, gets rewarded and then that was where we were supposed to go and drink a bunch of free wine. Instead, had to go run into the car for the horse portion of the day.

So, mystery summation conclusion?

1. He sure as hell runs better if he can get awarded out there on the field. Not gonna happen in the big boy dog show, though, little buddy.

2. Even with those rewards, he can still have an I-See-Dead-People freakout for mysterious reasons that I can't figure out.

3. He can have ZERO weave poles one night, and the next day do them, I dunno, A LOT of times, perfectly.

4. Teeter totter, teeter totter, teeter totter. Is still an evil nemesis.

5. When stressed out, duck and cover. Under the table, way better than on top.

Um, to fix? I think that's just called keep working at it. Because it's gonna take a while.


Elayne said...

Hmmm, maybe Nancy Drew should enlist Scooby Doo to help solve the mystery? Or maybe Velma?

Anonymous said...

you remember a couple of weeks ago some agility people were writing the initials of no longer with us agility dogs on their hands during their runs? well, i think the Team leader should write "less is more" on her hand when she runs Gustavo. and maybe on her forehead, too, so when someone asks why less is more is written on her forehead she will remember. and stop while the stopping is good.
i am speaking from experience here...so no criticism intended.